Some of us have been made giddy with excitement (well, ok me) at the announcement that vanishing spray will be used in the Premier League this season, but also making the refereeing news is Mark Clattenburg’s appointment to officiate the UEFA Super Cup. Ok, it’s basically a Waitrose Community Shield, but it’s still a showpiece. The one thing it has always had is a sense of glamour, so it’s hard to think of a ref more likely than Clatts to be disappointed that the Monaco residency ended in 2012, and a late summer trip to Cardiff is instead his reward.
Mark Clattenburg has long been one of England’s best referees, yet despite an outstanding 2013/4 you can’t help thinking he may end up being a bit of a nearly man at the very highest level. Howard Webb has made the default best English referee spot his own with an excellent World Cup, following a couple of mediocre domestic seasons. With Webb still some way from international retirement, Michael Oliver may be the man from the North East to inherit the crown.
So this game, two years after he officiated the Olympic gold medal match, is undoubtedly a big moment for Clattenburg. A ‘proper’ European final is definitely a possibility, and he would be the big favourite for Euro 2016 or World Cup 2018 if Webb did call it a day early. However, despite these impeccable credentials, he has yet to blow the whistle, or even indicate how many additional minutes will be played, in an FA Cup final. While PGMOL select refs for most English games, the Cup final remains in the hands of the FA Referees’ Committee, chaired by David Elleray. With ex-Harrow schoolmaster Elleray at the helm it perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise that the Committee has gained a reputation for being what you might call, er, “conservative”. With some high profile media controversies, albeit some unjustified, it looks like there may be a fear that Clattenburg isn’t the right sort of chap, and he might raise a few eyebrows down at the club. Hopefully in future Clattenburg will finally be given the chance to test the pressure of the ball at Wembley, but if he isn’t, we can be pretty sure that it’s not a reflection on his ability.